Students experience summertime fun in D.C.

Students experience summertime fun in D.C.

The 13-member Duck River EMC delegation on the 2019 Washington Youth Tour was among more than 185 students, teachers and co-op chaperones on the weeklong trip to our nation’s capital. Four chartered tour buses departed the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association (TECA) headquarters in Nashville bright and early June 14 for the trip of a lifetime.

Students were selected for the trip by writing short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives — Connecting Communities” that explain how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power.

The annual event, sponsored by TECA and the state’s 23 electric co-ops, provides young leaders an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government and cooperatives and develop their leadership skills.

“The Youth Tour is a unique opportunity for these young people to experience history and public policy up close and personal,” says DREMC Publication and Marketing Specialist Connie Potts. “Tour delegates experience an exciting week visiting museums, monuments and other landmarks and learning about leadership, history and government.”

“This was the trip of a lifetime!” said Kera Reynolds of Community High School. “It was astonishing to witness history while meeting so many new friends and creating so many everlasting memories.”

Delegates visited the White House and memorials to past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Tennesseans saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures at the Smithsonian Museums. Other fun stops included historic homes of former presidents – George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello — and a boat cruise down the Potomac River. The group also paid a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

“The Washington Youth Tour was an amazing experience for me,” said Huntland High School faculty member Donna Hill. “Seeing all the monuments and buildings and gaining a better understanding for whom and what they represent were priceless. Watching the delegates’ eyes as they were experiencing it was an added bonus.”

For many, the highlight of the trip was hearing from Holocaust survivor Ms. Esther Starobin at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her advice to the delegates was, “Don’t be a bystander in this world. You have to know history and pay attention to it. Get involved and learn as much as you can with more than a single viewpoint.”

The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn and members of the Tennessee congressional delegation who posed for photos and answered questions.

All 2019 delegates will have an opportunity to apply for a $10,000 Cooperative Youth Ambassador Scholarship, which will be awarded during the Washington Youth Tour next June. Delegates who remain engaged with their sponsoring cooperatives and complete certain community service requirements are eligible for the scholarship.

President Lyndon Johnson inspired the Washington Youth Tour in 1957 when he encouraged electric cooperatives to send youngsters to the nation’s capital. In the years since, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have been delegates on the Washington Youth Tour.

“This trip was absolutely amazing,” shared Anna Brown of Cascade High School. “Not only did we get to travel to our nation’s capital and learn the history behind it, we made friends that will last forever.”

Watch for your August edition of The Tennessee Magazine! On the cover, you’ll see DREMC’s Washington Youth Tour delegation.

“Writing a short story for the Washington Youth Tour seems like so little compared to the experience I received. Having the chance to see our nation’s capital with my own eyes has brought such appreciation for the sacrifices that have been made for me to be free, and it has shown me how truly amazing it is to be an American!” — Lexie Finchum Huntland High School